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September 30, 2008

Quick clicks: Crisis communications

Here's a quick roundup of interesting blog posts for your Tuesday morning:

- Tom Peters has some timely advice for communicating during a crisis.

- Dana Theus at the Member-to-Member blog has two detailed posts about lessons in social media from the association sector.

- Speaking of social media, Caron Mason started an interesting discussion with a post about helping her association's volunteer bloggers (and the blog as a whole) to succeed. Ben Martin responded with some advice from his own experience.

- Tony Rossell delves into the differences between member satisfaction and member loyalty.

- Bruce Hammond saw the new Microsoft "I'm a PC" ads and thought about associations.

- Feeling overloaded? Chris Bonney is doing a series of posts on how to better manage your e-mail. The most recent post tackles the question of how much your inbox reflects you.

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September 29, 2008

The fine line between reinventing and stalling

Seth Godin's always-excellent blog featured a recent post that got me thinking. "None of us are doing enough to challenge the assignment," he writes; the example he gives is of looking at the words and fonts in a draft brochure instead of questioning the need for a brochure at all. "Every day," Godin writes, "I spend at least an hour of my time looking at my work and what I've chosen to do next and wonder, 'is this big enough?'"

His post reminded me of one of the first people I ever personally interviewed and hired, back when I was still in college. You know how, during an interview, most candidates ask you a couple of good questions about your organization or the position they're interviewing for? This person asked wonderful questions. Lots of them. Thoughtful, searching, insightful questions. We were thrilled to hire him.

Unfortunately, as it turned out, asking questions was pretty much all he wanted to do. And when you're on a tight deadline for a single-day turnaround, it's somewhat frustrating to have a staff person who seems to prefer asking questions to just getting the work done.

And of course, a lot of it is an issue of timing: A series of questions can be a game-changer during the planning process, and seem pointless and frustrating the day before a major deadline.

There has to be some point where the two lines cross--somewhere between "I never do any work because I'm so busy questioning the paradigm" and "I never question the paradigm because I'm so busy doing work." How can we, as association professionals, push our personal dials more toward the "question" side of things? And what we do to try to get those questions out there at a time when they'll be most effective?

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September 26, 2008

Ahhh, the human factor ...

Even when taking into account the power of money and the marvels of technology; when all is said and done it always comes back to people, doesn’t it?

When Warren Buffet, the world’s richest human being, was interviewed recently by Parade magazine and asked what constituted happiness, he replied that for him happiness was not found in the accumulation of vast sums of money or power but rather to have “lived life knowing that you are loved by those who matter to you.” From any other person such an observation might sound banal, but Buffet’s comment rang true.

Clearly, as we witness the meltdown of the capital markets of the world’s wealthiest nation we cannot help but be reminded of the limits of material wealth. And as overwhelming as our nation’s military power is, Bob Woodward’s most recent book reveals that the key to our success in Iraq is found in the network of human connections our intelligence services have woven within Iraqi society—not in any wiz-bang technology or our overwhelming armed forces per se.

So it appeared in the case study research we did for The Power of Partnership, the keys to success in association-driven partnerships were found in the “soft” factors—the human relationships that were strategically woven together—as opposed to the size and muscle power of any one entity.

Lee Iacocca, the famous automotive executive who engineered the turn around of Chrysler in the 1980s, observed in one of his earlier memoires that he was always leery of managers whose performance reports cited their brilliance but noted that they had problems with people. ‘What else is there,” Iacocca asked “that a manager should be concerned with except people?”

But the question remains, are the personal qualities that make certain people so skillful in managing human relationships innate, or are they acquired? Can these skills be learned?

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September 24, 2008

Association/Nonprofit Employers of Choice for the Over-50 Crowd

With so many organizations focused on talent management and recruitment, special congratulations are in order for several associations and nonprofits that have been named to the prestigious 2008 AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50 list. Some of the who and why are below:

- The YMCA of Greater Rochester (New York)—Ranked fourth and in the top 10 for the past four years, this nonprofit has a workforce in which 18% of employees are over age 50 and averaging a decade-long tenure. To get there, the “Y” hires specialized placement agencies to aim for “mature workers and retirees,” and partners with the Rochester Area Employee Network to recruit people over age 50 with disabilities. Its alternative work schedules include job sharing, telecommuting, and “a formal phased-retirement” program, as well as financial planning coaching, caregiving leave, wellness programs, and onsite care for grandchildren.

The Y also boasts terrific benefits for part-time and full-time employees, such as professional development programs with tuition reimbursement, short-term assignments in other departments, and public accolades for long-time service. A formal retiree association is run by an on-staff employee who coordinates temporary or ongoing project work, consulting, volunteering, and myriad networking/social events.

- The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (Arlington, Virginia)—Thirty-six percent of NRECA’s workforce is over age 50. Ranked 27 on the AARP list, NRECA employees enjoy a culture of continuing education, with a wide assortment of training, short-term projects, sabbaticals, certifications, and tuition reimbursement available. Volunteering is encouraged with paid time off, and commuter assistance and flexible work locations and hours are offered. Childcare referral services for grandchildren, an active retiree program with multiple work and volunteer options, and excellent health and financial benefits also are worth noting.

As competition for top talent tightens, these role models are sure to be replicated across our sector. Congratulations again!


September 23, 2008

It's a fake world redux

I think Jim Gilmore makes an interesting case in his book, Authenticity, and in his first This Week in Associations video segment when he says that commerce -- all of commerce -- is essentially phony. It is one person trying to entice another person to perform an action. As long as a consumer has a choice, there will be some question in that consumer's mind about how genuine a product producer is in letting the consumer know about the product. Gilmore argues that the company that wins the genuine game wins the customer.

To me there is one big area where associations fail in their quest to be genuine to their members and customers. It's the same thing that has been said many, many times before--it's when we keep doing something over and over -- have the same education session, push the same certification, keep the same member benefits, etc. We try to find new ways to market it, new ways to describe it, and new ways to position, but the fact remains, it's the same old thing. A dog is a dog, no matter how it is marketed, and your members see that. If you want to be relevant, or, better yet, lead your industry or profession or sector, you need to experiment, to try new things, to learn from those trials, and to take leaps forward instead of plod along. For me, being authentic starts with what you do, not what you say.

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September 22, 2008

Do we let go too easily?

I recently accepted an offer for a free 2-cup coffee maker when I subscribed to BocaJava coffee service and paid for the shipping of the coffee maker. My wife and I drink a bunch of coffee so it seemed like a great idea. They sent us 4 things of coffee and the coffee maker for like $10. The idea was to get us hooked and send us a shipment of coffee every month and zap our credit card which I had to provide.

It turns out that we did not use enough coffee this month to make it worth our while so I just cancelled our subscription (they may have even called it membership but if they did I didn’t notice) on their website. It was simple and easy to do, and the reason I am writing this post is to tell you what happened when I tried to cancel. I had to log in and go to a cancel button which was really easy to find. Once I hit cancel the system asked me why I was canceling and gave me 3 or 4 options. I selected “we can’t drink that much coffee in a month.” Based on that selection the system reloaded the page and asked me if I knew I could change my delivery date so that I didn’t get my coffee so quickly and offered me the opportunity to switch to less frequent shipments or to continue with my cancellation. I continued on the cancellation path and the next thing that loaded was an offer to get free shipping on my next order, again with the option to continue cancellation or to stay a subscriber. Again I clicked on continue cancellation and when it reloaded this time it asked me if I wanted to save 50% on my next shipment with the option to continue cancellation or to stay a subscriber. Again I clicked on continue cancellation and got a confirmation number of my cancellation.

In just 90 seconds they made 3 attempts to keep me as a subscriber. It was not intrusive and it was quick and easy. Do we, as associations, let go of our members too easily? Could we implement something like this to target members based on their needs so that members stay instead of leave?

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September 19, 2008

It's a fake, fake, fake, fake, world

And Jim Gilmore talks about the antidote — authenticity — in the new series on This Week in Associations. Longer blogpost on this next week, but I'm curious on your thoughts: do associations have a problem being real?

Update: Due to a vendor's player change, the video cannot be embedded directly. To access the video in this post, please choose it from the playlist in the video player below.

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September 18, 2008

Exploring the principles of social responsibility

Last year the Sierra Club began a yearly ranking of the top 10 “greenest” universities and higher education facilities, which it published in Sierra magazine. The 2008 list has just been released, and it’s interesting to see the creative retrofitting, pilot programs, green building or remodeling, innovation, and eco-operational changes that have occurred in only a year or two at these and other educational institutions, many of which house the top business schools in the world.

Just as important has been the staggering amount of money saved and waste eliminated by those that have broadened beyond addressing just climate change or “greening” and instead embraced greater sustainability overall.

I field plenty of “show-me-the-money” questions from association leaders examining their own social responsibility options and opportunities, and I don’t have to look far to provide an onslaught of examples, both inside nonprofits and externally at corporations, state and federal government agencies, and small businesses.

Some of these “cool school” initiatives, for instance, are well known, having gained publicity through continuing coverage of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. The document (more commonly known as “the presidents’ pledge”) has been signed by more than 550 campus leaders worldwide, all willing to commit to auditing their schools' greenhouse-gas emissions, creating plans for a carbon-neutral operation, and publicizing their progress. I encourage you to skim this commitment, in part because it is one of the models on which the draft Principles for Associations on Social Responsibility is based. (And, of course, we’d love to hear your comments on this draft.)


Partnering as a driver of international trade and investment

One of the more interesting facts among international business trends is that every year since the late 1980s the greatest increases in international trade and investment are to be found not among the large multi-national corporations, but among small and medium size enterprises (SMEs). The largest share of international trade and investment is still held by the largest multi-national companies, but this position is being eroded and eventually will be overtaken by the SMEs.

To borrow a line from Ernest Hemmingway, “The curious thing is that [they—the SMEs] should be here at all!” Without teams of lawyers and thousands of professionals on the payrolls in bricks and mortar structures around the world these small and medium size companies have been able to indentify and exploit opportunities in foreign markets—in many cases, even before the corporate giants know what has happened!

In the early 1990s Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu did a study that examined this phenomenon. Bear in mind that this was the time when the Soviet Union imploded, Europe’s Iron Curtain came down and serious trade for the West was opening in China. What the Deloitte study found was that the largest companies had too many investments in established markets that bogged them down and made them too slow moving to take advantage of these new opportunities as rapidly as did the SMEs. But without any international infrastructure of their own, how did the SMEs do it? The Deloitte study found that SMEs essentially formed partnerships using networks of contacts available to them through the associations and chambers of commerce to which they belonged.

“The Power of Partnership” discusses this tangentially, but I think it could be the subject of its own book ...


September 17, 2008

Quick clicks: Chapters of the future

I feel very behind on my "Quick Click" posts! Here's a roundup of some of the interesting conversations going on around the association blogging world:

- Peggy Hoffman at the Idea Center blog has some interesting thoughts on the "chapter of the future."

- David Patt shared some interesting things he heard at an Association Forum of Chicagoland event for small-staff CEOs focused on creating employee engagement. Jamie Notter was inspired by David's post to ask some questions of his own.

- Kevin Holland at the Association Inc. blog has some really interesting quick-hit thoughts on several topics, all in one post: time shifting, leadership legacies, "we bees," staff ownership in associations, and more.

- Stuart Meyer at the Association 2020 blog talks about how associations can help innovative ideas to succeed (despite the forces that might push against them).

- Mickie Rops and some great guest bloggers captured a lot of good information during the NOCA Credentialing Leadership Forum. If you have an interest in credentialing and certification trends, definitely check it out; the first post is here and the last is here.

- Bruce Hammond has a great post about how policies can be perceived by members who run afoul of them.

- Jeffrey Cufaude has a thoughtful post on evaluating past experience, asking "What experience most matters?"

- If this election season is inspiring you to advocate, you should definitely read Stephanie Vance's series on "Forming an Advocacy Habit."

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September 16, 2008

How helpful are Member Needs Assessment Surveys?

While developing tools to help our chapters determine their members’ needs, I started to question the effectiveness of member needs assessment surveys. Our national association distributes one relating to national programming. Already lengthy, it would be difficult to include chapter specific questions.

If the chapters distribute another survey on the chapter level, will the members feel frustrated or inundated? Chapters typically don’t have the resources to pay for a market research firm to develop and distribute the survey and volunteer lack of market research experience could lead to leading or unclear questions. Plus, wouldn’t two surveys reduce overall survey participation by the membership, rendering both less valid?

Perhaps it is more beneficial to promote focus groups, informal discussions at meetings or discussion thread analysis to determine what members needs on the local level. I haven’t pursued this option and am unsure if best practices exist related to volunteer implementation of these practices.

How do your chapters determine member needs?

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Elections Spur Association-Nonprofit Voter Registration Campaigns

New voter registration campaigns by trade and professional associations are leading to what seems to be a trend toward increased partnering with 501c3 nonprofits. The latest crossed my desk yesterday with the announcement that the League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS) and National Head Start Association (NHSA) will jointly register voters at local Head Start facilities from coast to coast. As part of the nonpartisan effort, NHSA also will promote League educational content on its Web site.

The partnership also reflects greater interest in registering traditionally underrepresented populations of potential voters.

"We are particularly proud that this partnership will help fulfill our mission of encouraging a truly representative voting public, and that it will bring together Americans of all backgrounds to stand up for our democracy in this important election year," says National League of Women Voters President Mary Wilson.

Unlike some of the other c6-c3 partnerships related to the upcoming elections, this latest marriage is the result of a new provision in the reauthorized Head Start Act signed into law in December 2007. The specific provision allows "nonpartisan organizations" (such as LWVUS) to use Head Start facilities "during hours of operation ... to increase the number of eligible citizens who register to vote in elections for Federal office."

This provision of the amended Head Start Act is consistent with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (commonly known as the "Motor Voter Registration Act"), in which Congress recognized the importance of increasing access to voter registration opportunities to low-income populations that have historically been disenfranchised, by mandating registration opportunities in locations accessible to disenfranchised populations.


September 10, 2008

A question of trust

I come back to the “trust” issue because it emerged as one of the common denominators of every successful partnership we studied for “The Power of Partnership,” yet it admittedly is a very “mushy” concept. What is the difference between the “trust me” uttered by a con artist and the relationship of trust that permeates every solid partnership? The book discusses two measures that managers should take.

When negotiating a nuclear non-proliferation agreement with Soviet head of state Gorbachev, President Reagan was fond of quoting a Russian proverb to him: “Trust, but verify!” Certainly every successful partnership that we studied had defined goals and measurements in place to track progress against these goals so that all parties knew what they had to do and when they had to do them. So trust can be verified in a very business-like manner in this way.

But of course life doesn’t always proceed according to plan. When the unforeseen happens, as it sometimes does, solid partnerships can withstand some pretty severe shocks while the less solid ones fall apart with the slightest jolt. In this regard, the second key distinguishing characteristic of solid partnerships is found in the synergies or complementarity of their missions and strategic goals. The leaders of successful partnerships actively seek out other organizations whose core missions and strategic goals complement those of their own organization. This can lead to some interesting and unlikely combinations, not only between nonprofits and for-profits and nonprofits and governmental organizations, but also partnerships between very large and very small organizations as well as partnerships between organizations whose respective stakeholders might otherwise consider each other rivals.

Many partnerships we studied were between organizations headed by individuals who had known each other for many years; but we quickly found that partnerships that were well conceived could continue despite changes in the leadership of one or more of the partnering organizations.

However, personality is an issue in a way. Virtually everyone we interviewed agreed that successful partnering was difficult to impossible for people who insist on being the center of attention or for those who insist on personally being in control of every detail—large or small—of a project.

This concept of being comfortable in a teamwork environment is rather critical; but one of the things I would have liked to have explored more in “The Power of Partnership” was whether nonprofits that typically have “flatter” organizational structures, adapt to partnering better than for-profit organizations that typically have more pyramid-like and “command and control”-driven management structures and styles.

What do you think—is partnering an area of management science where associations have a competitive advantage over the for-profit sector?

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September 8, 2008

Partnering—a useful management tool for the association world?

Viewed in the larger perspective, it could be argued that partnering is not only a useful management tool that allows organizations to achieve more than they could on their own—it is a skill that should be part of the course requirements at all business schools, schools of diplomacy and public affairs…in fact every field of endeavor where people are required to work together efficiently and effectively. Yes? No?

As a teacher in a Masters of Business Administration program I regularly hear students complain about being forced to work in teams. It would be so much better, they say, to be able to work on their own schedule, without having to rely on “weak links”—to be responsible only for their own work. Indeed, wouldn’t this be nice? But Johns Hopkins Carey School of Business insists that we use the team approach in teaching because that is the way the “real world” works…or is it?

Over the years as a management consultant I have seen truly brilliant people in management positions going it alone, making checklists and ruthlessly driving their staff to do exactly what they should, when they should, according to their master plan. We all know this “superstar” management approach exists in the association world…in fact it might even be the way most associations are managed. But is this the best way to manage?

To a large extent partnering requires a personality that is able to “let go,” to be able to trust that others will want to do what they should because it is in their best interest as well as yours. But the fact that 50% of all partnerships fail is an indication that not everyone has the personality or skills set needed either to identify the right partners or to make their partnerships work.

So, here are two questions:

- Is partnering a necessary management tool for association managers? and
- Can anyone learn how to use it effectively, or does it require certain personality traits that you either have or you haven’t got?

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Welcome to Steven Worth

We're pleased to announce that Steven M. Worth of the Plexus Consulting Group will be joining us for a series of blog posts related to partnership. (Since the Plexus Consulting Group authored the new book The Power of Partnership in cooperation with ASAE & The Center and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, he has a lot of information to draw from for his posts.) If you have any questions, experiences, or insights into partnership and its role in associations' business strategies, feel free to share them with Steven!


September 6, 2008

Common sense and member service

I purchase my family’s health and dental insurance through Carefirst BlueCross BlueShield. As I am sure most of us have experienced very few doctors and dentists file claim’s on the patient’s behalf and then bill you for whatever you owe after the get compensated by the insurance company. I recently sent in a claim for a dentist visit by my wife. I filled out all the proper forms, attached the bill from the dentist and mailed it in as instructed. The forms came back about a week later with another form attached that stated that had a checklist of what I assume are common errors. It was a list of about 10 things that could have possibly been wrong with the forms that were submitted and the box was checked next to “date of service not included.” I know my dentist always includes the date of service so I immediately went to the form and say that in one place the date was illegible but down at the bottom of the form it stated the date in clear handwriting. Apparently the member service representative who got that form was told that if they run into issues where something is wrong they are to follow the procedure book and fill out the appropriate form, stick it in an envelope and mail it back to the customer. Is it only me or does this seem kind of crazy? The member service rep could have simply looked more closely at the form and if there was still a doubt as to when the date of service was they could have picked up the phone and called me or the dentist to confirm. The call would have taken 2 minutes which is probably as much time as it took this person to get the form, fill it out, stick it in an envelope and mail it. It also would have saved the company the cost of postage as well as helped save some trees because they would not have had to use additional envelopes or forms to send the stuff back to me. Finally, they would have avoided aggravating a paying “member” (yes, they call me a member and I have a member card and contact member services when I have issues) since I now have to correct the tiny mistake, find a new stamp and envelope and mail it again.

I bring this up because I really hope that member service at associations is not like this. I understand the need to have processes and procedures and feel they are very important. I also know that using some common sense, taking a little bit of initiative and doing things slightly differently to make your members happy is always something we need to take into consideration.

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September 4, 2008

Position versus Purpose Support

The other day a coworker and I had a discussion on who the customers are for association professionals. We determined that ultimately, our customers are our members’ customers, since they benefit from the education and networking opportunities we provide to the association members.

This led us to the realization that, as component relations focused professionals, our approach of preparing volunteers for their specific roles as volunteer leaders and their specific positions in our volunteer structure may inhibit our ability to best meet our customers’ needs. At times we become too focused in the details and this hinders our message to the volunteers on their (and our) purpose – to train members to increase the level of service to their customers. In this case, those customers are the members of the chapter that volunteer leader represents.
What’s the difference between position and purpose driven support? Position driven support includes providing agenda templates, budgets creation and financial monitoring training and leadership development programming. The goal is to prepare volunteers for the operational and administrative functions that will allow them to be successful throughout the year. Examples of purpose driven support is recommendations on how to understand member needs and training on how to use current technology to create training to meet member needs (such as webinars). These prepare volunteers to provide opportunities for members to mature in their professional career.

At times, purpose and position driven support are the same thing, such as provided training on how to do strategic planning. Oftentimes, especially in the mid to late volunteer year, the two diverge and association professionals tend to focus on position driven support. After all, our day-to-day job is to manage volunteers; stepping back to provide purpose-driven programming requires additional effort. Both approaches are needed to be successful component relations professional.

What do you think the divide should be between position and purpose driven support? 50/50? Perhaps 80% position and 20% purpose at the beginning of the volunteer year and vice-versa in the latter half?

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Are RFPs still worthwhile?

As a consultant and a former membership, marketing and circulation director at a number of DC metro based associations I have always been exposed to RFPs (requests for proposals). While I was working at an association I sent out a number of them for various services I was in need of at the time. Now that I own my own consulting firm I get sent them all the time. I have to tell you I am happy to be included on RFP distribution lists but the more I receive the more I wonder if it makes sense for me to respond and more importantly for associations to send them out.

Many of the RFPs I receive are overly general so there is no way that the proposals an association gets back can be compared and contrasted so that the association can make an educated decision on the right company for the job at hand. They tend to be so broad in the description of the services they are looking for that consulting companies, or vendors, who receive them can interpret them a million different ways which again leads to proposals that are unable to be compared and contrasted so that the association can make an educated decision on who best will fill their needs. In response to this issue I have seen associations start allowing recipients to ask them questions or email questions that the group then answers and distributes to all RFP recipients. Is this a good use of time for either side?

Almost all of the RFPs I receive do not include a budget range. I understand why an association would choose not to disclose that information but if companies that submit the proposal are not in the same price range how can an association decide which company will perform best under those price restrictions?

Finally, I still receive RFPs that require proposals to be submitted in hard copy? In the digital world we live in I don’t understand this. If the hiring decision is going to be made by committee isn’t it easier to get a pdf or a Microsoft Word version of the proposal so you can simply attach it to an email and send it to as many people as necessary.

There are numerous challenges with the RFP process and that is why I am very selective about the types of RFPs I respond to and know many other people who are the same way. I also have heard that there are many vendors who don’t even respond to RFPs any longer, not because of arrogance, but because they don’t find it a smart business strategy to put in the time and effort required to do a good proposal just so they can be compared to a large range of other vendors who interpret aren’t even in the right price range, offer completely different solutions based on their interpretation of the RFP, etc. etc.

Is the RFP something we should continue to use in hiring service providers? Or should we ask our network for referrals of 2 or 3 potential partners that can fulfill the need that we have, sit down with them to have an open discussion about what it is we are truly looking for and then have them submit a good proposal based on what both sides now know is needed?

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September 3, 2008

Association anniversaries and longevity

I saw this photo on one of my favorite blogs - she posted it because of its looks, but it's fascinating on many levels for me.

First: we don't do giveaways like we used to as an industry. (matchbooks? really?)
Second: How many of the tschotchkes we create will be around in 42 years? (unused?)
Third: You never know whose life has been touched by an association...

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Welcome new Acronym bloggers!

We'd like to welcome two new guest bloggers to Acronym: Scott Oser and Katie Paffhouse. Scott is with Scott Oser Associates, in Maryland; he brings with him a wealth of knowledge about publishing and marketing. Katie is the senior manager, affiliates, with the American Diatetic Association in Chicago; she has a strong background in volunteer management, training, and recruitment.

We're looking forward to seeing both Scott and Katie interact with the great commenters here on Acronym!


September 2, 2008

Associations Now September case study: Compensation conundrum

This month's Associations Now case study, "Compensation Conundrum," was actually inspired by a discussion on ASAE & The Center's Executive Section listserver. As the members of that list were debating back and forth about how confidential salaries should be (and how confidential, in practice, they actually are, especially with the recent changes to the Form 990), Jay Karen of the Professional Association of Innkeepers International kindly sent me an e-mail to recommend that Associations Now cover these issues in some way. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed a case study could work well.

As commentators, David Patt of the Association of Running Event Directors and Dinah Adkins of the National Business Incubation Association break down the issues surrounding compensation from their perspectives as CEOs. I greatly appreciate both of their insights.

For those of you who have read the case study, and those who haven't, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the many touchy issues surrounding compensation. Should salaries be confidential? Should the board be involved in setting staff salaries in any way? If you discover your salary isn't what you think is equitable, is it ever a good idea to ask for an increase--and if you do, what's the right way to go about it?


September 1, 2008

Hurricane Gustav Prompts Businesses and Organizations to Launch Emergency Recovery Plans

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is urging businesses and organizations in the impact area of Hurricane Gustav to execute their emergency recovery plans, which should include the following (note: All associations and nonprofits across the U.S. would be well-served to include these in their own disaster plans.):

· Phone-calling trees and/or a phone recording for employees that keeps them informed during an emergency and provides clear direction for whom to speak with if they have problems.
· An out-of-town phone number that allows employees to leave a message telling organization leaders whether they are okay, where they are, and how they can be reached.
· A clear plan for employees with disabilities or special needs that was created with their input, so all needs are addressed during a disaster.
· Payroll continuity processes and communications.
· An evacuation plan for records, computers, and other stuff from your office to another location.
· Procedures for establishing the conditions under which the business/facility will close.
· Emergency warnings and evacuation plans and other disaster processes. Practice these if possible.
· Employee transportation plans, if appropriate.
· Plans for communicating with employees' families before and after a hurricane.
· Purchase of a NOAA weather radio that has battery backup and a warning alarm tone.
· A process for protecting any outside structures or equipment on your property. Windows, too, should be protected with plywood.
· Knowledge of whether your business phone system works even without electricity. If not, add a phone line that can do so.

You can find other disaster planning articles and information on ASAE & The Center’s Web site, but here are some to get you started:

Quick Tips Regarding Disaster Planning for Hosted Solutions

7 Helpful Disaster Planning Sites

What If? A Guide to Disaster Preparedness Planning